Maybe it was lost in his Cajun garble. Then maybe Orgeron needs to explain exactly what it was that Burrow was up to in a misty Tiger Stadium Saturday night.
<em>Could</em> be? Dual threat?
It looked pretty danged dual to the naked eye, and it threatened to pass and run Ole Miss out of the joint while No. 5 LSU stayed perfect with a 45-16 shellacking of the Rebels.
If Burrow wasn’t throwing for three touchdowns -— matching his season total coming in while putting up career numbers of 18 for 25 for 292 yards — he was running for 96 yards to lead his team’s ground assault on the Rebels.
Then he put an exclamation point on his night by accidentally scoring on an improvised 45-yard run while the Tigers were merely trying to run the clock out.
“We kind of drew that play up in the mud,” Burrow said of his wide open sprint. “ We didn’t have it in the game plan. (Offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger) and some of the guys on the sideline saw something in their defense and we drew it up on the fly.”
It was no fluke, though.
While LSU was taking control with touchdowns on four straight first-half possessions, Burrow’s shifty feet kept all the scoring drives alive with at least one key run.
After three quarters Burrows was the Tigers’ leading rusher. He briefly lost that distinction while LSU ground out the fourth quarter, but regained it on his finishing sprint to end with 96 yards on nine carries. His 388 yards of total offense were the fourth most in LSU history.
“I’m excited about the player Joe Burrow was tonight,” Orgeron said, still insisting he wasn’t a dual threat. “Those were great options. I don’t think they were expecting him to run the football. We got to be careful because we don’t want to get him hurt.”
“I got hit a couple of times,” Burrow said. “ It’s the SEC. I got up, said ‘Good hit’ and got back to it.”
In the air, he completed passes to nine different receivers, with Justin Jefferson getting two of the touchdown passes among his five receptions while Stephen Sullivan also had five catches.
“Joe is giving every receiver on this roster the chance to go out there and make big plays for this team,: said Jefferson, whose scoring plays came on throws of 5 and 65 yards. “Every receiver is going to get that chance to score and make that big play. Joe is just giving us the opportunities.”
Freshman Ja’Mar Chase had the other touchdown grab with a tip-toe catch in the end zone of a 21-yard throw.
“When this offense is running smoothly, we have a lot of different playmakers that get to touch the ball,” Burrow said.
Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards also scored on short runs as the Tigers 573 yards of total offense included 281 yards on the ground and 292 in the air.
LSU punted only once in the game.
“That’s the balance you want,” Orgeron said.
“I thought Coach Ensminger called a great game. He dialed it up. He used Jefferson. I thought overall offensively we had a great night.
Burrow’s performance was marred only by his two lost fumbles, both in the red zone, one to close the first half and another to open the second. It kicked in LSU’s usual third-quarter blahs as the Rebels scored 10 points off the miscues to close the gap to 28-13 with some momentum for their own high-octane offense.
“We score the first four possessions and then we kind of tail off,” Burrow said. “It really seems like it has been like that all season. We really need to get that fixed and stop getting sluggish in the late second and early third quarters.”
LSU righted the ship when Burrows’ 52-yard pass to Terrace Marshall set up the Tigers’ first third-quarter touchdown of the season, a 5-yard pass to Jefferson, who finished with 99 yards in catches.
“He can’t get 100,” Burrow said laughing. “That’s kind of our running joke. He always gets 97, 99. He’s a go-to guy for me and plays really well.”
“We’re playing as a team,” Orgeron said. “We have grit. We’re hungry. We have tremendous leadership. We have dominant players here and there. And we’re playing as a football team.”
<strong>Ole Miss at LSU: Superlatives</strong>
l <strong>PLAYER OF THE GAME:</strong> LSU quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and capped his night with a 35-yard touchdown run for LSU’s final score. He was even the Tigers’ leading rusher with 91 yards on nine carries. His completions (18) and yards were career highs and the three TD passes matched his total from the previous four games. Even through he threw only one pass in the fourth quarter, his 388 total yards of offense were the fourth most in LSU history.
l <strong>STAT OF THE GAME:</strong> LSU’s 573 yards of total offense was the Tigers’ most since they rolled up 593 — last year at Ole Miss. That’s 1,166 yards in the last two games.
l <strong>STRANGEST DECISION:</strong> Trailing 35-13 and facing 4th and 11 from the LSU 23 with 13:10 to play, Ole Miss elected to kick a field goal. It was a three-score before Luke Logan booted it through, and it was still a three-score game after he made the score. 35-16.
<strong> LEAST EXPERIENCE:</strong> Due to injuries, the left side of the LSU offensive line that opened the game had one previous start between LG Donavaughn Campbell and LT Adrian Magee. That’s was Magee’s start against Miami, the last action he’d seen before Saturday while recovering from an injury suffered in that game. Usual starting LT Saahdiq Charles, who’d been listed as questionable all week, dressed out but did not play.
l <strong>BEST ICE-BREAKER:</strong> LSU hadn’t scored a third-quarter touchdown all season before Justin Jefferson’s 5-yard over-the-shoulder catch from Burrow with 1:48 to play in this third quarter. It came at a good time, after the Tigers had squandered one scoring opportunity and the Rebels were gaining some momentum and threatening to make it interesting after pulling to within 28-13.
l <strong>BEST RETRO:</strong> To honor their 1958 National Championship team, the Tigers wore the helmets of that era, which featured the player’s number on the side of the helmet instead of “LSU” around the tiger head. The 1958 team was introduced at halftime.
l <strong>BLAST FROM THE PAST:</strong> Midway through the second quarter the Tigers sent Stephen Sullivan around end on a jet sweep for 11 yards. It was the first time this season LSU has run the play, which was a staple of the offense last year under deposed offensive coordinator Matt Canada.
l <strong>WORST TREND:</strong> LSU, which had only one turnover in its first four games, lost two fumbles Saturday — both inside the Rebels’ 15-yard line to keep near-certain points off the board. The back-to-back sabotaged drives — to end the first half and open the second — are the only two trips into the red zone this season where the Tigers have come away without points.
l <strong>WORST PENALTY</strong><strong>: Ole Miss was flagged for a delay of game penalty — on the first play of the game.</strong>
l <strong>WORST TIMEOUT</strong><strong>: LSU was lined up to punt in the second quarter when the Rebels called time out. When play resumed, the Tigers changed their minds and picked up a fourth-and-1 gamble. Actually, the second worst penalty might have been the culprit. LSU probably wasn’t going to snap the ball, but the Rebel noseguard jumped off-sides to keep LSU’s third scoring drive alive.</strong>
l <strong>WORST BOUNCE</strong><strong>: LSU kicker Cole Tracy hit the cross bar and the ball bounded back on a 53-yard FG attempt as LSU’s game-opening possession came up empty.</strong>
l <strong>WORST CHAT:</strong> LSU had apparently stopped Ole Miss in its own territory late in the first half when Tiger CB Greedy Williams started jawing with the Ole Miss sidelines. He got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the Rebels turned the drive into a field goal with two seconds remaining to cut the lead to 28-6.
l <strong>WORST WEATHER</strong><strong>: The steady drizzle that tortured tailgaters in late afternoon was kind enough to disappear for kickoff and for most of first half. But it snuck back in just before halftime, and effectively evacuated the stadium with LSU leading 28-6.</strong>
l <strong>SADDEST MOMENT:</strong> Before the game there was a moment of silence to honor basketball player Wayde Sims, who was shot and killed early Friday morning just off of the Southern University campus across town. It was silent, too — you could hear a pin drop in Tiger Stadium. Orgeron said the team addressed Sims’ death Friday. “Our guys were really hurt,” he said, “but there’s a fine line with that and preparing for a football game. I thought our guys did a tremendous job of that.”